Negative comments Brings Bad PR and ImageBlogging. There are many advantages from blogging for people, organizations, politicians, and of course businesses. Just reading a blog is beneficial. We are all critics now. The blogosphere is at sea level. No credentials or certifications here. Granted, your average Joe neighbor blogging has its advantages and disadvantages too. However, the importance behind blogging is that every voice is heard. From the CEOs of the powerful Fortune 500 companies to the stay-at-home mom (or dad) talking about issues that others want to hear.

Strategic research analysts worship this feedback. Each forum is a focus group. Each Facebook Fan Page is a corporate message board. Every sentence typed can be represented in dollar signs. It’s raw and uncensored information for people and businesses, but only if they want to listen (See my post Gut Feelings Vs. Wikinomics Mashup: The New Traditional ways of Business on how companies can harness these Intellectual Properties for a competitive edge).

But it’s even more beneficial when we participate in the conversation.   For example, let’s take a look at my mother’s recent PR fiasco. But before we do I need to fill you  in on some background information.

My mother and step dad, Dan decided to restore Santillane, an old Greek revival historic house. With plans in turning it into a special events venue and a bed and breakfast, we had a lot of work to do.

After five years, the restoration was complete. The project was a bear to say the least.

Since then, my mother runs a successful business, booking almost every weekend with an event. Before the Santillane business, my mother worked for the local public school system in Roanoke, Virginia as Director of Public Relations and Community Relations.  Jumping back into PR work for her new business different. Retirement must have stunted her growth with new technology, the new relationship, and social media basics.

Sorry mom if your reading, but you know it’s true.

Old ways of communications were gone but thank goodness that she had a son majoring corporate communications (I think that is what she would say). With a new website, Facebook Fan Page, and becoming a part of B&B networks, I thought I set her pretty well…until I GOOGLED her business.

There it was, a negative comment and review of her business. Not too high in the PageRank search results but still on the first page:

Rotten Google Juice

OH shoot. I immediately called my mom and email her the link. I checked the Santillane Fan Page to find another bad review. Is it the same person, I don’t know? But what I do know is what Jeff Jarvis said…

Your customers are your ad agency.

This might be one occurrence or maybe the overall attitude of Santillane. Let’s not take any risks because if one customer took their time to write an review Santillane in a bad light, then think of all the others that didn’t want to waste their time that might feel the same way.  On the flip side, think about the satisfied customers that probably didn’t write a review with the  “ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude. Either way, let’s start listening to become a better business.  Here are three things I try to keep in mind when dealing with negative comments:

  1. Knowing your mistakes and flaws will make our company stronger, only if you act upon them. Let your public know you are working hard to improve troubling areas.
  2. Not responding can possibly lead to more irritation to your publics. Each situation is unique.
  3. Remember, a negative comment is still feedback so don’t get caught up in the moment and respond irrationally. Kill them with kindness; catch more bees with honey than vinegar (but not over the top).

Solving Santillane’s Image and Reputation Problem

  • Let your customers do the talking. Direct past and future customers to review sites to rate your venue and services. Astroturfing isn’t the way to fix a bad online reputation.
  • Create a survey after an event has past.  Attached PDF with radio button forms are great way to get feedback and are user-friendly.
  • Show them change. It’s one thing to listen but it’s another to act AND don’t  just talk about changing. Show them change because that’s ultimately what they want to see.
  • Monitor your connecting networks with a better eye. Google your self as if you were searching for your business. What’s being said and are you a part of the conversation?

Google JuiceUmmm Ummm..gggGoogle Juice. Not to be mixed up with Beetle Juice. Google Juice is another word for your PageRank from search engines, the biggest one being Google. If you blog or have your own site then you might already have heard of this Search Engine Optimization (SEO) term. SEO is basically getting your site in web users search results. This usually mean more traffic to your site. But let’s break down this system at its most fundamental part…the link. What a beautiful thing….no seriously.

Meg Hourihan said it best in Jeff Jarvis’s book What Would Google Do?,  “What we say isn’t as important as the system that enables us to say it.” I stopped for a moment to think about the importance of linking. Bloggers and journalist can link related in-depth stories, giving readers the choice to click for additional information or skip it. It’s can be used as a educational source or to increase creditability and connectivity. Now I guess we all owe a great deal of thanks to Google, creating an amazing infrastructure to organize all theses websites and links.  Jeff Jarvis hit the nail of the head when he wrote,

“In retail, media, education, government, and health–everything–the link drives specialization, quality and collaboration, and it changes old roles and creates new ones. The link changes the fundamental architecture of societies and industries the way steel girders and rails changed how cities and nations were built and how they operated. Google makes links work. Google is the U.S. Steel of our age.”

Thanks Google but a basic thanks will do. I can be only so thankful when according to last July Wall Street Journal article Google’s revenue rose to $6.82 billion from $5.52 billion in the same quarter last year and have an estimated $30.1 billion in cash. That’s with a B and well deserved. For a basic understanding of how Google’s linking system works, watch Matt Cutts and he’ll explain it in just a couple minutes. Listen.

So the more links and clicks you get, the higher you rise in Google’s search results, which ultimately gives you a chance for more clicks in the future. To get all juiced up you should know these 5 simple tips about SEO.

  1. Check and monitior your search standings. Use online analytic tools to see your stats. It’s great way to know what people are clicking on and how they got there.
  2. THINK KEYWORDS! No tricky wording. Cleverness can hurt your search results. Be clear when creating tags and titles.
  3. Sharing should be easy. Use other social media outlets to your advantage to let other viewers share your information to friends.
  4. Simple design works.  Search engines can’t read information in fancy technology like flash. Plus, it’s a little distracting.
  5. Update and keep it fresh. More content, the better. A great way is have update content is to incorporate a tweeter feed and blog within your site.

For more useful SEO tips, check out Richard Burckhardt’s 55 Quick SEO Tips Even Your Mother Would Love.

Google Juice is great until is goes sour. In my next post, I’ll share my personal experience when my juice becomes “rotten”.  Until then, pour yourself a glass and watch your sites hits keep rolling in!